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Prescott Valley Tribune | Prescott Valley, Arizona

home : features : community January 24, 2015

7/11/2008 11:57:00 AM
Circus: Big production, big effort
Cat Kirkman works during the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus
Cat Kirkman works during the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus "load on" in Tim's Toyota Center this week.
TribPhoto/Cheryl Hartz
Circus 'load in' list
What's involved in "loading in" the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus? The following condensed list and much more...

• 100 cast and crew members

• 6 tigers

• 80 pounds top round

• 140 pounds chicken quarters

• 3 elephants

• 45 bales of hay

• 60 bags of sawdust

• 100 pounds bananas

• 100 pounds each of carrots and apples

• 20 loaves bread

• 14 watermelons

• 40 pounds lettuce

• 100 pounds elephant chow

• 100 pounds sweet feed

• 250 pounds tree branches or sugar cane

• 5 dogs

• 6 trucks

• 9 equipment and animal trailers

• 36 house trailers

• 75 road boxes

• 45 pieces of wardrobe

• 2 confetti cannons

• lights, soundboards, speakers, rigging, chain motors, floor rubber.

Cheryl Hartz
News Editor

To put on the "The Greatest Show on Earth" requires a great deal of effort, equipment and energy.

That was evident as the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus conducted its "load in" on Thursday in Prescott Valley, preparing for its Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows at Tim's Toyota Center.

Jason Gibson, the production manager for the one-ring Gold Edition of The Greatest Show on Earth® thinks he's one of the luckiest people on earth.

He's in charge of "quality control" - from checking out the venue to handling performer-related issues to making sure each performance is a smooth one which maintains the creative team's original visions.

The creative team put together the European-style, high energy show in three weeks in December, meaning it's entirely different than the one performed here a year ago.

VIP ticket holders can sit within 10 feet of the ring.

But everyone can attend the 45-minute pre-show for a chance to meet the performers, try on costumes, swing from the trapeze, juggle and more.

Then, "Get your cotton candy and snow cones before the show because it flies by," Gibson said of the 2-hour show.

Most of the performers in the 100-member cast and crew are from Russia, Gibson said, on their first visit to the U.S.

During the two years the group will be together, traveling 25,000 miles to 58 cities each year, they become like a family.

Each member must be a jack-of-all-trades and Gibson qualifies. The California native spent four years in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany and Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. Afterwards, he earned a degree in Recording Arts and interviewed with Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Disney on Ice, but no immediate positions were available.

While working as an assistant engineer with a recording studio in Los Angeles, he learned from a friend that the circus wanted him, but had no current contact information.

He rectified the situation, started as a sound engineer and became sound boss within four months. He held the position for seven years.

He has served as production manager for all three units, Blue, Red and now, Gold, over the past 4.5 years.

He loves his job because he gets to meet people from all over the world, learn about their cultures and sample their cuisine.

"It's the circus, we have fun here," he said with a huge grin. "It's the right thing for me."

He said the load in of the arena takes 40 people about 7 or 8 hours. The circus hires local stagehands to assist, and because the circus group is fresh from a week-long vacation, they're "ready to go."

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